Think you know Wales? The lush green hills, the seaside towns, the slate and stone cottages? We all know that Wales, but there is another Wales too, a Wales of Italian architecture, Transylvanian-style castles, and African connections. Come with us on a world tour of Wales.
For your real-life world tour of Wales, stay in a woodland cabin, complete with hot tub, at Beddgelert in Snowdonia, or at Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire which is close to the Welsh border and just an hour from the historic city sights of Cardiff.
1. The Amalfi Coast?
Portmeirion is perhaps the most famous Italian town outside Italy. The colourful Italianate architecture and playful public spaces make it utterly unlike anywhere else among the slate mountains of Snowdonia.
2. A Transylvanian castle?
No need to travel all the way to Transylvania for a taste of Dracula. The high Gothic turrets of Castell Coch near Cardiff cast a haunting shadow across the reassuringly Welsh landscape.
3. A Dutch windmill?
Llynnon Mill on the island of Anglesey is the only working windmill in Wales. A magnificent 18th Century mill making the most of the windswept island’s situation on the north- western edge of Wales, it is a match for any of the windmills in Holland.
4. A Swiss mountain railway?
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a bucket list favourite, but did you know that the steam engine has a twin sister? Built over 100 years ago in the same factory, a Swiss locomotive is also still in operation. In 2018, the long-lost twins were reunited briefly when the Swiss locomotive paid a visit to Snowdonia.
5. Elsinore, Hamlet’s castle in Denmark?
The imposing stone walls and unusual polygon towers of Caernarfon Castle could easily stand in for the true setting of Elsinore in Hamlet, Kronborg Castle in Denmark. Like its counterpart, Caernarfon Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site, overlooking the sea.
6. The dark skies over Alaska?
Don’t travel to the ends of the earth to sea the night sky in all its awesome beauty. The Brecon Beacons in South Wales have International Dark Sky Reserve status. Visit in winter, when the nights are longer, and you may even see the Northern Lights beyond the snow-capped mountain peaks.
7. A film location for The Hobbit in New Zealand?
No need to film in New Zealand, when the most picturesque parts of Middle Earth are right here in Wales. The beautiful Llyn Padarn in Snowdonia, with its glacial waters, mountain backdrop and lone tree, might easily have been on Bilbo Baggins journey, There and Back Again.
8. A French Vineyard?
We don’t tend to associate Wales with vineyards but there are a hardy handful and their numbers are growing. Pant Du Vineyard on the southern slopes of the Nantlle Valley in Snowdonia, layers up the French feel with orchards too, evoking the rustic landscape of Normandy.
9. A Caribbean beach?
In the right light, on a hot day, if you squint your eyes, the golden sands of Harlech Beach might just take on the heavenly aura of a sun-soaked Caribbean beach
10. All the way to Timbuktu?
The last stop on our world tour is Hay-on-Wye on the South Wales border with England. And what has this little book town got to do with the far-off city of Timbuktu in Mali? Well, back in 2007, Timbuktu chose Hay-on-Wye as its twin town. Visit during the Hay Walking Festival from 10-13 October and take the Timbuktu Trail, which highlights the similarities and differences between the two towns.
As you can see, some of the best holiday destinations in Wales are world-class, so enjoy a break in Wales and see the world.